The Australian share market has closed modestly higher as gains by major banks, healthcare companies and miners offset weakness in other sectors.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 rose 0.16 per cent to 6,013.6 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index gained 0.13 per cent to 6,121.7 points.
Patersons Securities Economist Tony Farnham said bank stock dividends were still an attraction for investors “even with all the background noise of the royal commission”.
He said a weaker Australian dollar has helped drive companies with offshore earnings higher, in particular BHP Billiton and healthcare giants CSL and Cochlear.
Among the big four banks, Commonwealth Bank led gains, adding 74 cents, or 1.1 per cent, to $70.35, National Australia Bank lifted 22 cents, or 0.8 per cent, to $27.03, Westpac rose 14 cents or 0.5 per cent to $28.41 and ANZ slipped by one cent to $27.72.
BHP Billiton was up 0.5 per cent to $32.28, while Rio Tinto dipped 0.1 per cent to $83.00.
CSL led the health care sector, up $2.04, or 1.1 per cent, to $185.14 and Cochlear advanced $1.00, or 0.5 per cent, to $195.17.
Telcos were weaker as Telstra dropped three cents, or 1.1 per cent, to $2.81 and TPG Telecom shed 17 cents, or three per cent, to $5.42.
Grocery supplier Metcash came under pressure for a second straight day after Morningstar said in a report that the group’s shares were still overvalued.
Metcash’s shares were down two cents, or 0.7 per cent, at $3.01.
Among the better performers was Gloria Jean’s and Donut King’s parent company Retail Food Group.
RFG shares rose 7.5 cents, or 9.7 per cent, to 84.5 cents after the company announced managing director Andre Nell is leaving and Richard Hinson, who is overseeing the company’s review of its franchise network, has been appointed chief executive.
Meanwhile, the Australian dollar is weaker as the US dollar rallies against most major currencies.
Mr Farnham said traders have jumped into the safe-haven US dollar because there is a strong chance of fresh elections in Italy after the country’s political leaders failed to form a government.
He said another Italian election is being viewed as a vote on Italy’s eurozone membership which has damaged sentiment in Europe.
At 1630 AEST, the Australian currency was 75.29 US cents, down from 75.75 US cents on Monday.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 closed up 9.6 points, or 0.16 per cent, at 6,013.6 points
* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 8.1 points, or 0.13 per cent, at 6,121.7 points
* The SPI200 futures contract was up four points, or 0.07 per cent, at 6,020 points
* National turnover was 2.8 billion securities traded worth $5.7 billion.
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEST:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 75.35 US cents, from 75.75 US cents on Monday
* 82.06 Japanese yen, from 82.90 yen
* 64.96 euro cents, from 66.69 euro cents
* 56.71 British pence, from 56.81 pence
* 108.70 NZ cents, from 108.88 NZ cents
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEST was $US1,296.716 per fine ounce, from $US1,296.76 per fine ounce on Monday.
BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEST:
* CGS 5.75 per cent May 2021, 2.1134pct, from 2.14pct on Monday
* CGS 2.25pct May 2028, 2.687pct, from 2.759pct
Sydney Futures Exchange prices:
* June 2018 10-year bond futures contract was 97.310 (implying a yield of 2.690pct), from 97.240 (2.760pct) on Monday
* June 2018 3-year bond futures contract was 97.850 (2.150pct), from 97.820 (2.180pct)
(*Bond market closes taken at 1630 AEST previous local session; currency closes taken from 1700 AEST previous local session)